Sunday, May 31, 2009


This was my first Joshilyn Jackson novel, so I went into it with no preconceived notions of what to expect. Just as well, because, although I enjoyed it, and I liked the writing style, there was something just a tad flat about it. Perhaps it was that the story was too scattered. Perhaps the characters weren't as well-developed as they could have been, and I did not warm to any of them. Perhaps because the ghosts didn't have as large a part as I'd have liked (although the bit about the foot was really something). One thing, the first half dragged for me. Not sure exactly when it changed, but about halfway through it became unputdownable (my own word).

At any rate, the descriptions of the Southern way of life was wonderful, especially of the Stepford-like neighborhood where Laurel lived. I have to say, in that, I agree with Thalia that it was a creepy place. I also found the relationships intriguing. All three of the marriages ~ the mother's and her two daughters' ~ seemed to work well for each of them, yet each was trying to change the others' to conform with her own idea of what a "proper" marriage should be. (Timely, that, with the gay-marriage controversy raging hot in the U.S.) I also found the juxtaposition of material wealth with poverty, not so much in terms of economics as of the spirit, quite compelling. Though what the girl did was horrible, I felt for her, understood the terrible needs that drove her to it. I thought the mother and the girl were very much alike ~ in escaping from their origins, they were willing to do unspeakable things, and, in the end, neither really escaped.

All in all, I'm glad I read it and am looking forward to reading her other novels.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Audiobook of the Year

Just wanted to say congratulations to Neil Gaiman whose audiobook, The Graveyard Book, won the award for Audiobook of the Year at the BEA (Book Expo America) convention last night. Check out the full story on his web journal.

Sidenote: I was in the process of downloading The Graveyard Book on audio to my iPod last night as he was winning the award. Coincidence? I wonder.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MORE Thrills, Chills, & Giveaways!

Life doesn't get much better than this! I've got three (count 'em, 3) copies each of two (yep, 2) unabridged audiobooks to give away, again courtesy of those wonderful folks at Hatchette Books. These are mystery/thrillers by some of the best-known, best-selling authors around today, and I am so excited to be able to offer them to my friends in the blogosphere.

First: THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly, read by Peter Giles

If you aren't familiar with Michael Connelly, then you are in for a rare treat ~ an introduction into the world of Jack McEvoy (The Poet and this, The Scarecrow, his latest) by one of the best and most prolific mystery writers around today. Other mystery series by Connelly feature Harry Bosch (starting with Black Echo) and Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer & The Brass Verdict). I've read every one of his novels, as well as his non-fiction look at his experiences as a crime reporter, and cannot speak highly enough of him and his books.


Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career. He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow's so-called confession is bogus. Jack is soon running with his biggest story since The Poet made his career years ago. He is tracking a killer who operates completely below police radar--and with perfect knowledge of any move against him. Including Jack's.

To learn more, visit Michael Connelly’s website or become a fan on Facebook.

Second: CEMETERY DANCE by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, read by Rene Auberjonois

I may be the last reader of mystery/thrillers on the planet who has not yet had the pleasure of reading Preston & Child. That will soon be remedied when I listen to the audiobook of Cemetery Dance.


Pendergast-the world's most enigmatic FBI Special Agent-returns to New York City to investigate a murderous cult.

William Smithback, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. As Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta undertake their own private-and decidedly unorthodox-quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them to an enclave of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive, reclusive cult of Obeah and vodou which no outsiders have ever survived
For more info, visit Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s website.

Both giveaways are open to residents of the U.S. and Canada with a street address to provide. Leave a comment letting me know which audiobook giveaway you are interested in entering. An extra entry (for the same or the alternate audiobook) will be yours if you also indicate what your all-time absolute favorite mystery/thriller is. Be sure to provide a way for me to contact you if your name is drawn. Contest ends at midnight on June 21, and a random drawing will be held on June 22.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Night Gardener - Thrills, Chills & a Great Giveaway

Oh, boy! Am I ever excited about my latest giveaway ~ The Night Gardener! It's a thriller by George Pelecanos. I read the first couple of pages and could tell from the first sentence that it was going to be good. (To read a little of the book yourself, check out the link on the right side of the page.)

Here's what Publishers Weekly has to say about it:

"Starred Review. Pelecanos (Drama City) delivers a dignified, character-driven epic that succeeds as both literary novel and page-turner. In 1985, the body of a 14-year-old girl turns up in a Washington, D.C., park, the latest in a series of murders by a killer the media dub "The Night Gardener." T.C. Cook, the aging detective on the case, works with a quiet, almost monomaniacal, focus. Also involved are two young uniformed cops, Gus Ramone, who's diligent, conscientious and unimpressed by heroics, and Dan "Doc" Holiday, an adrenaline junkie who's decidedly less straight.

"Fast forward 20 years. Detective Ramone, now married with kids of his own, investigates the murder of one of his teenage son's friends. The homicide closely resembles the earlier unsolved Night Gardener murders. Holiday, now an alcoholic chauffeur and bodyguard, follows the case on his own and tracks down Cook, long retired but still obsessed with the original murders. While the three work together toward a suspenseful ending, Pelecanos emphasizes the fallacy of "solving" a murder and explores the ripple effects of violent crime on society."

If you'd like to read The Night Gardener, I've got 5 copies to give away courtesy of those nice folks at Hatchette Books. Please comment here for a chance to win one of them. If you mention this giveaway on your blog and/or Twitter and/or Facebook & include a link to this post, I'll add another entry for each website link you send me. If you ask to follow my blog, you get another entry. (If you already follow me, that'll count for an additional entry too.) Just do me a favor and mention each of those things in a separate comment or email so I can keep things organized ~ well, as organized as I ever get. Thanks!

Giveaway is open to all U.S. and Canadian residents only with a street address and ends at midnight Pacific time on June 21.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Alisa Libby, Author of "The King's Rose"

Just wanted to mention that Alisa Libby, who wrote The King's Rose and The Blood Countess, is hosting an author chat at Library Thing through 5/29. Stop by and ask a question, or just say hi.


Just a quick note to remind everyone that today is Towel Day! Carry your towel proudly wherever you go today in honor of Douglas Adams, creator of the Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy trilogy in five parts, which includes some of the best slapstick science fiction in existence today.

So, get out your towels, have a great day and remember, no matter what happens, DON'T PANIC!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fault Line by Barry Eisler-A Review

If you are looking for a deep psychological literary masterpiece filled with obscure symbolism and weighty subject matter that you must work hard to interpret, Fault Line is not for you. But, if you would like to immerse yourself for a day or two in a fast-paced, action-packed but intelligent and (unfortunately for society) believable thriller, with characters you can care about and a story that makes you want to keep turning the pages long after you should be asleep, then have I got a great novel for you!

Before going any further, I should admit that I don’t read a lot of thrillers, especially those that feature lawyers. Having worked in the legal field for over 30 years, most of the time with self-absorbed, physically out-of-shape, and uninteresting lawyers who are not the best-looking people on the planet and who do boring legal work for boring clients on boring matters, the thrillers I’ve tried have been unrealistic to the point where I simply could not force myself to suspend belief. When I heard about Fault Line, though, I was in the mood for something different to read, so I decided to give it a try. Am I glad I did!

Alex Treven is a senior associate in a Silicon Valley law firm who wants more than anything to be named a partner, and his influential mentor David Osborne has promised to help him win the partnership prize. When Alex is hired by the inventor of Obsidian, an advanced encryption algorithm that he believes will rock the security software world, he thinks his ship has finally come in. Then his client ends up dead, a bullet in his head, and the police find drugs in his car.

Alex is stunned, but he doesn’t connect the murder with Obsidian until his contact at the patent office also inexplicably dies. Then someone breaks into Alex’s house, and he gets seriously freaked. In fact, he is so freaked that, though he has always blamed his black-sheep of an older brother Ben for some things that happened in their youths, he makes a decision he thought he would never make after his mother’s funeral eight years earlier ~ he calls Ben for help.

Ben and Alex are as different from each as it is possible for two brothers to be. Alex stands for law and order and the comforts of civilized society, while Ben is an emotionally repressed, down-and-dirty assassin for JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), an elite, covert branch of the U.S. government. He has just successfully completed another job and is laying low for awhile when he gets the SOS from his estranged brother. Ben falls back in the old, schoolyard habit of protecting Alex from bullies and hurries back to the Silicon Valley to come to his aid. Once together again, they begin sniping at each other for weaknesses they perceive in the other. Add another bone of contention ~ Sarah, the beautiful first-year Alex has been eying for months but who is drawn inexplicably to Ben ~ and things get pretty heated. As for Ben, he might not trust Sarah as far as he can throw her (I admit it, I love cliches), mostly because she’s Iranian-American and had been working closely with Alex on Obsidian, but, in rare agreement with his little brother, he sure does find her hot.

Okay, enough plot. You want to know more, you can read the book. I assure you, Fault Line is worth it!

One thing that impressed me about Fault Line is the realistic depiction of the Silicon Valley law firm and its politics. Very true to the way a law firm operates. The parts about Ben’s military stint and his work in JSOC ~ and the machinations of the government around that nasty little secret organization ~ also seem (too) true to life. And no wonder! It turns out that the author, Barry Eisler, spent 3 years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations before becoming a lawyer in the Silicon Valley. He also earned a black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center in Japan, so the fight scenes don’t strain credulity either.

I also liked the relationships between the brothers, the way Fault Lines shows the difficulties faced by Iranian-Americans since 9/11, and the sharp dichotomy between the American ideal and the lack of ethics in the way the government actually functions. I also got a real kick out of the way the internet and blogs played a big part. I recommend Fault Line highly and am going to be on the lookout now for his Rain series.

Barry Eisler's blog is at He also Tweets at

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and Other Stories

It arrived today ~ my copy of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming! I'm so excited to have gotten it and can't wait to start reading it this weekend. Tonight, though, I'm going to finish up The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which is, so far, amazing!

Funny story, but true: I tried to read Oscar Wao (as an audiobook) about six, seven months ago. I got less than a full disc in and loathed it! So I turned it off, intending never to listen to it again. If it had been a regular printed books, I'd have surely given it away, but, instead, I just left it, ignored, on my iPod (only because I don't know how to delete stuff manually). Well, anyway, a couple of nights ago, I was bored with what I was reading. To be honest, I didn't feel like reading much of anything. When I get edgy and out-of-sorts like that, I sometimes play a few games of Shanghai, which is a mah jong computer game, while listening to an audiobook. I just happened to click on Oscar Wao and wham! I was struck almost instantly in love with it!

That's how it goes sometimes ~ it's my mood at the time I start a book and not the worth of the book itself. Which is why I never (or seldom) get rid of books I've not been able to read, unless of course the writing is completely execrable, in which case out with the rubbish it goes.

Which reminds me of a couple of well-written, well-reviewed books I've put aside in the past that I should perhaps dig out of whatever box they are in and try again. One in particular I'm thinking about is The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Has anyone read it and liked it? No, I'm serious, really. If you did like it, I'd love to know it and, if you'd care to comment, why you liked it. Because when I tried it a few years ago, I could not bring myself to read past page 100, even though it was for a book club I belonged to at the time.

Well, The Corrections may be something I look into again. Tonight, it's Oscar Wao, and tomorrow, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. Yes, life is good!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Falco novel: Alexandria!

UK Cover vs. US Cover - which one do you like best? I'm tending toward the British version because it's so much more, well, Falco-esque. You know, amusing and just a little risque. So, what do you think?

I am so excited! I just tumbled to the fact that Alexandria, a new Marcus Didius Falco mystery, is either already out or due out momentarily. Soon, I'll be able to revel in the company of my favorite detective of the ancient Roman world. Ah, life is good.

Plot Summary from the Official Website of Lindsey Davis:

My challenge here was to write a book set in ancient Egypt that would have no pharaohs, few pyramids, no respect for sacred cats, hardly any details of mummification rites, no duck hunts on the Nile, no peasants, no shadoufs and no Archimedes' screws.

Mission accomplished: Falco, Helena and their immediate family, including Aulus, go to Roman Egypt to see more of the Seven Wonders of the World. Uncle Fulvius and Cassius, later joined by Pa, are up to some pensioners' scam, getting in the way, while Falco looks into high academic culture at the Great Library. This is home to all the knowledge of the world - though when the corpses start appearing in the customary odd circumstances, it takes more than great minds to understand Who Did It. The academic world festers while management dithers, diplomats dose, undertakers fib and businessmen diddle. The Pharos is shrouded in mist and the Pyramids lost in a sandstorm. A sinister wind blows up out of the desert, adding to the hot air even before the arsonist sets things alight. Fortunately a mad inventor is on hand – and Falco just happens to know how his most useful invention works...

This is the one with the crocodile.